Charlotte Blanche Cross married my grandfather, Victor, and was my father's mother. We always affectionately called her Grandma Blanche as she usually went by the middle name.

Her childhood was dominated by hard times. She lost her mother and all three of her sisters from the time she was from two years old to four years old. Since her father was generally working to provide for the family, she was raised by her brothers. She always remembered her brother, Willie, most fondly as she thought that he helped her and loved her the most in her childhood.

Grandma Blanche was always the person you could count on to make your Christmas full of presents. She always said that giving my brothers, I and my cousin a great Christmas made up for all the bad Christmases she had had. I recall her mentioning that one Christmas she got nothing, but somehow Willie got her one present that helped make that Christmas memorable.

My most memorable Christmas with her was in Mason City, IA, while living on the farm (one of Glen Swartz' farms). Grandma Blanche excused herself to go to the basement for something. Suddenly, we all heard bells outside going around the house. I immediately insisted on calling grandma from the basement, but was called back by my mother. I then insisted in looking outside, but was called back by my mother. Then my mother or someone thought they had heard a noise on the front porch. We went and looked and there was a bag with even more toys in it.

Now, I do not know if I saw through what had happened then, but I sure do now. Grandma Blanche had gone outside, run around ringing bells and threw that bag of toys on the porch. I believe that is the same Christmas that Santa left a train set on a train table which was about the best present a little kid could have, even if he had to share it with his two obnoxious little brothers.

Grandma Blanche was the best cook in the family and you could always count on her holidays to have lots of really great food. You could also count on her making the best dill pickles, jelly and jams, anywhere - that's right anywhere, period.

She also grew up before all the modern conveniences we now have - like an indoor bathroom. Before indoor plumbing, people had to go to the outhouse and doing so in the middle of a cold winter night was not too pleasant. Thus, my grandmother used to keep a receptacle in her bedroom to use if necessary during the night. When they lived in Mason City (in the house after the farm), they had a fully functional bathroom in a built on section of the house, but she still continued to use the potty pot rather than walk downstairs to the bathroom.

I always looked forward to visits with Grandma Blanche, although after I became a teenager, we probably had some generational conflicts.

I believe that the last time I saw her was at my brother's graduation from college in 1966. Near the end of her life, she went to Washington, D.C., to live with my aunt and uncle, where she died of lung cancer, presumably as a result of my grandfather's cigarette habit.

I believe she was born on December 26, 1893, and died in May of 1971. She is buried in the Washington, D.C., area, possibly in Maryland.

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